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IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 1519: Pleasures and the Prices of Sin: In the City and among the Elite

Thursday 4 July 2013, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Piroska Nagy, Département d'histoire, Université du Québec à Montréal
Paper 1519-aSex and the Medieval City: The Real Wages of Sin in Old French Hagiography
(Language: English)
Karen G. Casebier, Department of International Languages & Cultures, University of Maryland
Index terms: Gender Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - French or Occitan
Paper 1519-bThe Seven Deadly Sins of Adela of Blois
(Language: English)
Kimberly Klimek, Department of History, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Index terms: Daily Life, Gender Studies, Philosophy, Women's Studies
Paper 1519-cPleasures of Gluttony
(Language: English)
Burçin Erol, Department of English Language & Literature, Hacettepe University, Ankara
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Social History

Paper -a:
As a subgroup of hagiographical literature, the repentant prostitutes insist upon the inherent incompatibility of society and sanctity. Here, cities are portrayed as being particularly conducive to sin because of the physical and social pleasures that they afford their citizens. In the lives of Thaïs and Marie l'Egyptienne, the contemptus mundi theme highlights the pleasures of urban society, precisely because the material goods that they enjoy (e.g. fine clothes, rich foods, luxurious homes) were purchased with wealth earned from the physical pleasure of the sin of fornication. However, while urban life is criticized as dissolute and self-destructive, the forest is depicted as a locus of redemption and salvation because it allows the meretrix to make spiritual choices unencumbered by the temptations of the flesh; for women, spiritual growth is only possible without the distraction of urban pleasures.

Paper -b:
Adela, countess of Blois and daughter of the king of England, lived a life full of the great pleasures associated with the medieval aristocracy, but she also ably met the obligations of her status as a great magnate. Often portrayed as a cold and calculating wife and mother set on advancing her county and her lineage, her letters instead show Adela living as an aristocratic woman and leader with great passion. Using as a guide the seven sins and virtues prominent in medieval proscription literature, this paper examines Adela's passion through the deadly sins of Lust and Wrath.

Paper -c:
Especially in the late Middle Ages in England display of abundant food and feasting became not only a pleasure but a means of establishing status and wealth, although gluttony was proclaimed as one of the seven deadly sins. In the 14th century due to various calamities such as increased population, crop failure and the Black Death, and the disruption of food production the providing and display of food and indulgence in gluttony was an indicator of wealth, riches, and high status for the upper class or the social climber as it is well indicated in the works of Chaucer and some of his contemporaries.